Aylmerton Nature Diary

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Tuesday 9th October

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iPhone photo of Jack Snipe, Cley NWT

Cley NWT all day yesterday. A few things to keep us amused, the best of which were: excellent but brief views of another Barred Warbler – this time on Walsey Hills, a Peregrine over the main reserve at lunch-time, and two Jack Snipe, on and off all day, on Snipe’s Marsh.

Another rather grainy shot of these lovely birds



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Monday 8th October


Tail-end of the Beeston Bump Barred Warbler yesterday! – for a great photo see Jane Crossen’s, on the NENBC Gallery

Well, as predicted, the Migration Workshop at Cley on Saturday was a bit of a wash-out. We stayed in the centre, doing the ‘theory ‘ stuff as long as I dared, then we had lunch and finally braved the weather for a couple of hours in the afternoon. Brief views of Jack Snipe, a fly-over Ring Ouzel and a few of the regular waders was the best I could come up with. A sea-watch yesterday morning, following the ‘big blow’, produced a few birds of interest – Great Skua, a couple of late Sandwich Tern, Great Northern Diver, a few Kittiwake, loads of newly arriving Brent Geese and my first Rock Pipit of the winter. The weather also produced a smattering of late migrants, the best of which for me was a Barred Warbler at Beeston Bump and some fresh-in Brambling at Trimmingham. Highlights of a late afternoon visit to Felbrigg, to finish the day off, included the pair of Stonechat – not sure where they’ve been hiding recently, a few more Wigeon & Gadwall, nice views of Water Rail in the gloom near the viewing screen and a skein of Pink-feet flying back to the coast to roost. A better birding weekend than of late, but rubbish photos!

The female Stonechat in the reed-bed at Felbrigg yesterday evening


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Saturday 6th October


Fieldfare – first arrivals, two weeks earlier than last year – Felbrigg 

‘Bird of the day’ award for yesterday goes to a flock of nine, newly arrived, Fieldfare which flew north-west over the rough grazing below the dam at Felbrigg. Two weeks earlier, in the local area, than last year and the first returning birds to be reported in the NENBC area this year. Other than that, the Pintail and Wigeon remain on the lake and small birds continue to be very scarce! I’m leading a ‘Migration Workshop’ at Cley NWT today, that should be fun – no birds and forty mile an hour northerlies with rain!

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Friday 5th October


First Wigeon of the winter – Felbrigg Lake

Wednesday was taken up with our first corporate volunteering day at Sustead Common / Spurrell’s Wood, but I did have my first Redwing of the winter – a group of three, newly arrived birds, which dropped into Spurrell’s Wood during our lunch-break. Yesterday I spent a couple of hours tidying-up and finishing burning the considerable volume of cuttings generated by the enthusiastic and energetic group. On my walk through the wood I put up a Woodcock, the first returning bird of the winter – a welcome sight.  I walked back home through the park, checking the rough grazing, lake and water meadows as I did so. No sign of any Stonechat, but there were a couple of Meadow Pipit and a small flock of Linnet on the rough grazing below the dam. On the lake, the newly-arrived Wigeon was immediately obvious, with it’s winter russet tones. The female Pintail was less easy to locate, sat roosting in vegetation along the western edge. On the water meadows there was a quarrelsome group of a dozen Greylags and ten Teal – making six duck species in total, along with Mallard, Gadwall & Tufted Duck. There were a few Blackbirds about – quite possibly migrants rather than resident birds.

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Wednesday 3rd October


Large bat over the cottage last evening – can anyone tell me what sort?

Yesterday evening, just as it was getting dark, I went out to the office. I noticed something  dark high up in the sky and thought initially it could be a Swallow – there’d been a few reported along the coast in the afternoon. I rushed in to get my binoculars but by the time I returned it had gone. I waited in the hope that it might return or that there might be another but no luck. Then, from behind the houses the dark shape returned and, through by binoculars, it was apparent that it was a large bat. I managed a couple of record shots before it disappeared again – not to return. It’s size and odd fluttering feeding style, high up in open skies, baffled me. Has any one got any suggestions as to it’s possible identification please?

Another, equally poor, record shot


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Tuesday 2nd October


A pair of Stonechat on the rough grazing meadow below Felbrigg dam

It was a busy weekend with our Sustead Common Open Day on Sunday being the closing event for Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s ‘Wildlife in Common Week’. The weather was OK – cool but at least no rain, and we had a steady trickle of visitors during the day. The ‘bio blitz’ total was over 150 by the end of the afternoon, but Perry Hampson added a further 16 to the total during his evening moth trapping session – several of those being potentially new for the site. Yesterday we were at Cley NWT – difficult to pick out the highlights, mainly because there weren’t any! A late Wheatear and a neck-ringed Pink-footed Goose providing the interest. This morning I did a walk around the park. The male Mandarin was again on the water meadow but no sign of the Pintail, which was reported yesterday on the lake. There were a dozen or so Meadow Pipit in the rough grazing below the dam and a pair of Stonechat along the fence line. This is the first multiple record since 2008. Difficult to tell whether the female was the same as the one a couple of days ago near the church, but I suspect not.

Male Mandarin with Snipe – water meadow


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Saturday 29th September


Stonechat, possible 1st w female – my third in Felbrigg this year

I’ve got badly behind with my NENBC Index of Relative Abundance (IoRA) surveys recently, so yesterday afternoon I decided to squeeze in a Quarter 3 (Q3) visit to Felbrigg. Starting at two o’clock wasn’t ideal but the best I could do. I recorded 37 species, the highlights of which were: the male Mandarin, still hanging-out with the Mallard flock – I’d seen it earlier in the day fly past the office window!, three Snipe along the lower reaches of Scarrow Beck, a skein of 18 Pink-feet flying over the hall and ‘bird of the day’ – a female / immature Stonechat along the fence-line at the side of the track, east of Felbrigg church. This was quite a surprise – a relatively early date and the third at Felbrigg this year!